NB: This picture is missing the first novel in this series, Heresy, but my review stands for all of them.
Set in Elizabethan England, Giordano Bruno is an ex-Dominican Monk who was excommunicated for reading Erasmus and his controversial beliefs such as stating that the Earth orbits the sun. Handsome and charming, Bruno is soon taken under Elizabeth I’s spycatcher Sir Francis Walsingham’s wing as he has a penchant for finding trouble, and discovering the gruesome truth behind it.
Okay so I must begin with a confession. I started the month reading Jessica Cornwall’s The Serpent Papers. I read the first half but really struggled to get into it. I found the prose difficult to follow and there was a heavy focus on alchemy, without much explanation. The blurb was brilliant, and really made me want to read it. But in reality, I wasn’t enjoying it and life is too short to plod on reading books you don’t enjoy! So, I gave my copy to my boyfriend’s boss and got started on CJ Sansom’s epic sequel to Dissolution.
There is always a worry with sequels that the story will be less enticing, new characters less likeable and that plot lines might be more predictable now you know the protagonist better. None of these apply to the brilliant Shardlake series. Continue reading “Dark Fire by CJ Sansom – A Review”→
Wow. C J Sansom’s first novel in his Shardlake series is excellent. A murder mystery set in the turbulent years after Anne Boleyn’s execution and when the dissolution of corrupt monastic houses was underway, Sansom depicts a vivid world with larger than life characters.
Matthew Shardlake is a lawyer and a reformist and as such, trusted by Thomas Cromwell. Having orchestrated the fall of Henry VIII’s second and most controversial queen Cromwell had turned to rooting out papists and ensuring all holy houses swore an oath of loyalty to the king’s supremacy over their church. The murder of one of his commissioners in a monastery in Kent could draw unwanted attention and suspicion over the desired submission of the house. Enter Shardlake. In Cromwell’s favour and eager to prove his loyalty to the Vicar-General, Shardlake is dispatched along with his ward Mark Poer to seek the truth of the commissioner’s murder quickly and efficiently. However, as soon as he arrives it is clear the monastery at Scarnsea holds many secrets and lies.
Like any good murder mystery everyone is under suspicion and many clues point to different culprits. As the days pass more scandalous events occur that keep you guessing at what exactly had happened. I gasped so many times while reading and i was desperate to learn who the murderer was. The protagonist was endearing and likeable, Sansom certainly created an unforgettable narrator. He cleverly intertwines factual events with current historical theories into his fictional plot with ease. The writing was a joy to read and the expert descriptions plunge readers into the tumultuous sixteenth century.
I recommend this for anyone who enjoys historical fiction and whodunnit murder mysteries. It is not quite as fast paced as perhaps more stereotypical plots in the genre but it fits with the Shardlake’s character and the period in which it is set.
Devoured this in two sittings and cannot wait to go and buy the second in the series, Dark Fire!
Wednesday 21st January 2015, 9pm, BBC 2: What will you be doing?
The highly anticipated BBC dramatisation of Hilary Mantel’s awarding winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies is hitting our screens in just four days. Excited? You should be. With Damian Lewis portraying a pre-tyrannical King Henry VIII and Mark Rylance as the protagonist Thomas Cromwell, it is bound to be incredible. The stellar cast has already proved that this portrayal of Tudor England will be dark and full of drama in the trailers.
Focussing on Cromwell and viewing the period from his point of view is an interesting take on the politics of the time. I for one can’t wait to see how these excellent books have been translated onto the screen.
Wolf Hall will start on Wednesday 21st January, BBC2 at 9pm, UK.
I hope you all entered 2015 happy and with resolutions aplenty. I know it seems a bit cheesy nowadays to make resolutions, after all, why should we change? We’re already brilliant. Yet I think it’s quite nice to start on a blank page and set achievable challenges for the year ahead. I won’t bore you with all of mine but let’s just say they involve writing more, reading more and experiencing more. I’m sorry it’s been a while since my last post but my excuses lay in 2014 and as it is a new year, I shall focus on my main quest: a new reading challenge.
In the four-hundred and seventy eight years since the death of Anne Boleyn historians are
still unable to achieve unanimity over certain aspects of her life. From her controversial love affair with the King of England to her contentious involvement in the fall of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. Anne’s role in the early stages of Henry VIII’s Great Matter still generates heated debate. In a period where the king cradled doubts over the validity of his marriage, Anne is often depicted in two contrasting ways: she is described as either a devious temptress that seduced the king or a meek, obedient victim of factional politics. Thomas Wolsey’s dramatic fall from grace during the period of Anne’s rise in Henry VIII’s esteem is particularly interesting. It serves as an example that Anne’s role within the Henrican court during this time was not so clear cut.